Back to Blog

Share Post:

Accounting payroll wage distribution, tax withholding, and employee compensation


Jan 3, 2024

Guide To Payroll Accounting - Basics, Importance, Process, and More!

Guide To Payroll Accounting - Basics, Importance, Process, and More!

Guide To Payroll Accounting - Basics, Importance, Process, and More!

Payroll accounting is calculating, recording, and managing employee compensation within an organization, including wages, taxes, and benefits.

It’s the process of managing employee compensation and taxes. It's crucial for cost tracking, expense oversight, and tax compliance. 

Effective payroll accounting involves six key steps: identifying payroll items, completing paperwork, determining payments, setting up a chart of accounts, paying taxes, and offering employee tax support. 

Read till the end as we talk about payroll accounting, how to do payroll effectively in 5 key steps, how accounting software works with payroll, the best payroll software, and the best accounting software to go with your payroll software.
Also read: Best accounting software for businesses

Understanding Payroll Accounting

Payroll accounting is the systematic process of managing employee compensation within an organization. It ensures employees are paid accurately and on time, complying with legal requirements.

Key Elements

  1. Salary and Wages: Payroll accounting tracks all forms of employee compensation, including salaries, hourly wages, and bonuses.

  2. Deductions: It accounts for deductions like taxes, insurance premiums, and retirement contributions, ensuring accurate net pay.

  3. Compliance: Payroll accountants must adhere to government regulations and tax laws, preventing legal issues.

  4. Record-keeping: Accurate records of employee hours, earnings, and taxes are maintained for auditing and reporting.

In summary, payroll accounting is crucial for maintaining a smooth and legal payroll process and satisfying employees and authorities.

Why is Payroll Accounting Important?

Payroll accounting plays a crucial role in any business. Following are the reasons why payroll accounting is vital for your business

Easily Determine Cost Of Each Employee

Payroll accounting holds great importance in any business. It enables us to determine the cost of each employee quickly. This helps in budgeting and financial planning. We gain clarity on our labor expenses by tracking wages, taxes, and benefits. 

This information is vital for making informed decisions about hiring, promotions, or cost-cutting measures. Moreover, it ensures accurate tax compliance, preventing costly penalties. With precise payroll accounting, we maintain trust with our employees, ensuring they are paid accurately and on time. 

However, payroll accounting is the foundation for understanding and managing the financial aspect of our workforce efficiently.

Detailed Overview Of Company Expenses

Payroll accounting is vital for tracking a company's expenses. It ensures accurate records of employee compensation, taxes, and benefits. This helps in financial planning and budgeting. By keeping payroll in order, a company can avoid costly errors and penalties related to tax compliance. 

It also aids in transparency, allowing employees to understand their earnings and deductions. Accurate payroll accounting boosts employee morale and reduces the risk of disputes. 

Furthermore, it simplifies financial reporting, making it easier for businesses to assess their profitability and make informed decisions. Payroll accounting is a crucial aspect of managing company expenses efficiently and responsibly.

Ensure That Your Company Is Tax-compliant

Payroll accounting is crucial to ensure your company's tax compliance. It helps you accurately calculate and withhold taxes from employees' wages, preventing costly penalties and legal troubles. 

Accurate payroll records make reporting and paying employment taxes on time easier, maintaining your business's good standing with tax authorities. By staying tax-compliant, you avoid unnecessary financial burdens and protect your company's reputation. 

In summary, payroll accounting is pivotal in safeguarding your business from tax-related issues, making it a vital component of your financial operations.

Doing Payroll Accounting Effectively - 5 Key Steps

This section will outline five essential steps for effective payroll accounting. These straightforward measures ensure accurate and efficient payroll management.

1. Identifying Items For Payroll

Effective payroll accounting begins with the crucial step of identifying items for payroll. This process involves determining the components included in employees' paychecks. To do this efficiently, follow these five key steps:

  • Gather Employee Information: Start by collecting essential details for each employee, such as their name, social security number, and employment status. Ensure accuracy to avoid errors.

  • Classify Earnings and Deductions: Categorize regular wages, overtime, bonuses, and deductions, such as taxes and benefits. Keep records organized.

  • Accurate Timekeeping: Implement a reliable timekeeping system to record hours worked by employees. This prevents overpaying or underpaying.

  • Compliance with Laws: Stay up-to-date with tax laws and employment regulations. Ensure your payroll process adheres to legal requirements.

  • Double-Check Calculations: Verify all calculations for accuracy before issuing paychecks to avoid discrepancies and unhappy employees.

2. Make Sure Your Paperwork Is Complete

To ensure effective payroll accounting, complete paperwork is essential. Maintain all necessary records, including employee information, timesheets, and tax forms. Double-check for accuracy and keep these documents organized. 

Missing or inaccurate data can lead to costly errors. Regularly update employee details, such as address and tax information, to avoid issues. Maintain a clear record of working hours, overtime, and paid time off. 

This information is vital for accurate payroll processing. Stay up-to-date with tax regulations and filing deadlines. However, proper paperwork handling is crucial for a smooth payroll process, reducing mistakes and ensuring employee satisfaction.

3. Determine Payroll Payments

To determine payroll payments effectively, accurately calculate employees' wages, including hourly rates and overtime. Consider deductions for taxes, benefits, and any other withholdings. Ensure all data is up-to-date and double-check calculations for precision. Maintain organized records for each pay period.

4. Setting Up a Chart of Accounts

A chart of accounts is a vital tool in payroll accounting. It categorizes financial transactions into organized accounts, ensuring clarity and efficiency. To create one, follow these steps:

  • Identify Account Categories: Begin by listing the main categories, such as income, expenses, and taxes.

  • Sub-Accounts: Subdivide categories into specific accounts, like salaries, benefits, and withholdings.

  • System: Assign unique numbers to each account for easy reference.

  • Consistency: Maintain consistency in account names and numbering across your organization.

  • Software Integration: Use payroll accounting software for accuracy and automation.

A well-structured chart of accounts simplifies payroll processing and financial reporting, making it an essential component for effective payroll accounting.

5. Pay Your Taxes

Paying your taxes is a crucial part of effective payroll accounting. Follow these steps to ensure your business stays compliant:

  • Calculate Taxes: Determine each employee's correct federal and state income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare taxes.

  • Withhold Taxes: Deduct the calculated taxes from your employees' paychecks. Be sure to do this accurately.

  • Employer Taxes: Don't forget your share of payroll taxes, including Social Security and Medicare contributions.

  • Timely Deposits: Make sure you deposit withheld and employer taxes on time to avoid penalties.

  • Reporting: Promptly file the necessary tax forms, like the 941 and W-2, to keep the government informed.

By following these steps, you'll maintain good tax compliance in your payroll accounting.

How Does Accounting Software Help With Payroll Accounting?

Accounting software greatly simplifies payroll accounting by automating various essential tasks. These tools streamline payroll processes, making them more efficient and accurate. Following are the ways how accounting software assists with payroll: 

Makes Record Keeping Efficient

Accounting software records employee earnings, hours worked, and tax withholdings. This data is easily accessible, making it simple to prepare reports, comply with tax regulations, and respond to inquiries.

Easy Tax Compliance

The software stays up-to-date with tax laws and regulations, ensuring accurate withholding and reporting. This prevents costly penalties and eases your business's tax compliance burden.

Direct Deposit and Reporting

With accounting software, you can facilitate direct deposits, eliminating the need for paper checks. It also generates various payroll reports, making tracking and analyzing payroll expenses effortless.

Time and Cost Savings

Automating payroll tasks reduces time and effort, saving your business valuable resources. It also minimizes the need for manual calculations and corrections, contributing to enhanced efficiency and accuracy.

3 Best Payroll software To Use

This section explores top solutions for efficient payroll management in businesses. Following are the top payroll accounting software:

1. Gusto

Gusto is a cloud-based payroll and HR platform that assists businesses, regardless of size, in handling payroll, benefits, and HR tasks. 

It provides user-friendly features such as automated payroll processing, tax compliance, direct deposit, pay stub creation, time tracking, benefits management, and HR support. 

What’s great about Gusto is their integration with other software, and since most accounting software don’t do payroll, Gusto adds on to complete the whole process, making everything smooth.


  • Easy clock in/clock out option for employee management

  • Simplified payroll, benefits, and HR management.

  • Covers automated payroll processing, tax compliance, direct deposit, pay stub generation, time tracking, benefits administration, and HR support.

  • Cost effective pricing

  • Interfaces with various accounting software programs.


  • Some advanced features require higher-priced plans.

  • A few users have reported problems with the mobile app.

  • Users often complain about bad support

2. Deel

Deel offers a global payroll platform catering to businesses in 150+ countries. This comprehensive system includes:

  • Global Payroll Processing: Deel manages every payroll aspect, from tax calculations and payslip generation to local currency payments for employees and contractors.

  • Advanced Analytics: It delivers in-depth payroll reports and insights to help companies monitor expenditures, recognize trends, and make informed workforce decisions.

  • Well-Known Brand: Deel is trusted by many businesses, from startups to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.


  • Deel streamlines payroll for a vast international workforce, saving time and simplifying operations.

  • Robust reporting capabilities aid in financial tracking and strategic decision-making.

  • Deel's established reputation ensures reliability and trust.


  • Deel's pricing may pose challenges, particularly for organizations with expansive global workforces.

  • Initial implementation can be intricate, especially for newcomers to global payroll.

  • Some users have reported slower response times from Deel's support team.

3. ADP

ADP is a leading payroll accounting software serving businesses worldwide. This robust system offers comprehensive payroll management and powerful data analysis.


  • ADP simplifies payroll for a vast international workforce, saving time and streamlining operations.

  • Strong reporting tools facilitate financial tracking and strategic planning.

  • ADP's established reputation ensures dependable service.


  • ADP's pricing may be challenging, particularly for organizations with extensive global staff.

  • Implementing ADP can be intricate, especially for those new to global payroll management.

  • Some users have reported slower response times from ADP's support team.

Best Accounting Software that Goes with your Payroll Manager

Payroll software, like the ones mentioned above, are only good for payroll, HR and finance management. If you want to track your financial records tracked, you might have to use an accounting software with your payroll software to make the most out of these software,

Luckily, there are a few software out there that integrate seamlessly with payroll software like above, ensuring accurate financial records, streamlined transactions, and efficient reporting, making them essential tools for your business. 

One of the best examples of accounting software is Fortune App

Fortune App

Fortune App is our top choice for accounting software, seamlessly integrated with our payroll manager. It connects directly to your bank, providing a comprehensive financial overview.


  • Fortune App effortlessly syncs with our payroll manager, ensuring a unified financial management experience.

  • The perfect spreadsheet replaces

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) features to forecast and plan financial decisions

  • Thanks to its direct bank connection, you can access up-to-the-minute financial information.


  • Relatively young

  • Fewer integration options 

Bottom Line

In conclusion, mastering payroll accounting is crucial for businesses. It ensures accurate employee compensation, tax compliance, and financial stability. 

The payroll process, when executed correctly, contributes to a smooth operation. Stay informed about regulations and embrace efficient practices for a successful payroll system.


1.  Is Payroll Just Journal Entry? 

No, payroll involves more than just journal entries. Payroll entries are recorded by accountants or business owners into a general ledger which is then used to document payroll expenses.

2. What Are The Basics Of Payroll Accounting? 

Basics include salary calculation, tax withholding, and compliance.

3. What Is The Payroll Process?

The payroll process involves paying employees, calculating the total wage earning, filing taxes, withholding taxes, and delivering the final payments.

4. How To Calculate Payroll 

Here’s how you can calculate payroll:

  1. Determine total time worked by employees over a period of time.

  2. Calculate gross pay without deductions and taxes.

  3. Determine the payroll deductions.

  4. Sum the payroll taxes

  5. Subtract the payroll deductions and taxes from gross pay.

5. What Is a Payroll Checklist?

A payroll checklist ensures accurate payroll processing steps. Depending on the industry you work in, this checklist might differ from the rest.

Share Post: